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Bend man killed in 3-vehicle crash on snowy Highway 97 south of Redmond

Traffic moved slowly past crash on Highway 97 Thursday morning
Ronald Larkin
Traffic moved slowly past crash on Highway 97 Thursday morning

I(Update: Details of Hwy. 20 crash; 3 people injured, 2 seriously; 1 of 3 dogs killed)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Bend man was killed in a three-vehicle crash Thursday morning on Highway 97 south of Redmond when a Redmond man lost control on the snowy roadway and spun into the oncoming lanes, Oregon State Police reported.  It was one of numerous crashes around the region.

Troopers and other first responders were called around 6:50 a.m. to the crash on Highway 97 near milepost 125, about four miles south of Redmond.

A preliminary investigation found that a 32-year-old Redmond man lost control of his southbound SUV on the slick roadway and spun into the northbound lanes, where it was struck broadside by a car driven by Christopher May, 44, of Bend, troopers said.

May’s car then was struck by a northbound pickup truck driven by a 46-year-old Bend man, they said.

The SUV driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to OSP, while the pickup driver was uninjured. May sustained fatal injuries in the crash, which closed lanes of the highway for up to four hours.

OSP was assisted at the crash scene by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Redmond Fire and Rescue and ODOT.

Another serious-injury crash occurred around 1 p.m. on U.S. Highway 20E near milepost 13, about 13 miles east of Bend, closing the highway for about two hours.

OSP said an investigation of the two-vehicle crash found that Joshua Hart, 32, of Bend, was driving a Ford pickup heading west when for unknown reasons he "abruptly stopped and slid into the eastbound lane," striking a GMC pickup towing a 35-foot gooseneck trailer.

The Ford pickup rolled and came to rest in the middle of the highway, with both Hart and a passenger thrown from the truck. Hart and the passenger were taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries; the GMC driver also was injured and taken to the hospital.

An adult dog in the Ford pickup died in the crash, but two puppies survived, troopers said.

Many roads were snow-covered as the latest surge of a spring storm brought more widespread snow across the region early Thursday, again prompting several crashes, before things warmed up and skies cleared later in the morning.

The latest snowstorm crossing the state also again closed Interstate 84 in northeast Oregon for a time Thursday morning between Exit 216 east of Pendleton and Exit 302 near Baker City, ODOT reported. The eastbound lanes reopened by mid-morning and the westbound lanes a short time later.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



          1. And even more so for those who are driving correctly for condition and paying attention – the too slow driver just created a traffic backup.

  1. Condolences for the loved ones of the person who didn’t make it with hope that the injured will fully recover. When it comes to accidents on Hwy 97, it seems that so often fatalities *might* be avoided if there were median barriers in place, no information yet if that’s the case this time.

    1. Sunny, Think for just two minutes about what it would do if there were median barriers from Bend to Redmond. Where would people turn? There are homes all up and down that HWY. Should people drive all the way to the next town just to get turned around? It would be best if folks would just drive according to the road conditions. That would save lives.

      1. Tracy,
        A center divider would have quite possibly saved a life in this case along with several others on a yearly basis. As for those living off the freeway screw’em, taking an alternate route is the price you pay for having a driveway entrance off a heavily traveled highway.

        1. There is no alternate route for those homes and businesses who were there long before this became a heavily travelled highway; their only entrance is off of 97. Putting a divider all the way between Redmond and Bend can add almost a half hour to some trips across the highway. I know because that’s what I do often when I have to make a left turn off 97 in bad weather after dark: I’ll drive up to Airport Way and use the underpass to do the U-turn.

      2. So by your logic, keep letting people die, several times a year in terrible crashes, because you and your 20 neighbors might be inconvenienced by driving and extra 5 minutes. Sounds like central Oregons finest deplorable logic to me.

  2. This is so sad. I drove this exact same stretch of Hwy 97 at 5:30 am today on the way to the airport (90 minutes before the accident.) It was slippery and – surprise – some drivers were passing me at 60-70 mph.

    I thought I was taking it slow at 50-60 mph. Now I think I should have been driving no faster than 40-45 mph.

  3. 97 is going to have a 50 car pile-up one of these days. people drive too fast, to fast for conditions, and too close together. with no separation between north and southbound lanes it is a recipe for disaster

    1. So lester, how are you going to pay for all the frontage roads and cloverleaf interchange to enter/exit 97? Stop with all the band-aid fixes and build a true freeway bypass around Terrebonne, Redmond, and Bend. In the words of the anti-gun crowds, common sense and if it saves even one life . . . . . .

      1. Here’s an idea. Instead of state and local government perpetually throwing good money after bad at the unsolvable homeless problem how about funding a center divider to protect the tax paying citizens that are trying to get to work!

  4. We knew Christopher May personally. He was a wonderful person. A truly great Father and husband. So sorry to hear of his passing and thoughts and prayers for his wife and children.

  5. Quite possibly one of the most dangerous US Highways in the country. Isn’t that designation supposed to make it a better designed and built highway for heavy interstate transportation?

  6. Might be a good idea to patrol more between Redmond, Bend and especially the Parkway? See a sheriff here and there but NOT often. Wish they put up cameras on the parkway which would be a good investment for the city of Bend and they would make bank with all the moronic drivers out there.

  7. Those people who got thrown from the truck are lucky to be alive. That happened to a couple of friends of mine and they weren’t so lucky. First Responders will tell you that usually results in head trauma. Wear your seat belts.

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